2020 Kia Niro

2020 Kia Niro Review: The Anti-Prius

by Cobus F. Potgieter

The 2020 Kia Niro is an in-between hybrid car, straddling the line between 4-door hatchback and compact crossover. On sale in the US since the 2017 model year in its first generation, this hybrid crossover utilizes a 1.56 kWh battery and electric motor to supplement a 1.6-liter gasoline 4-cylinder engine. System outputs are 139 horsepower, sent to a front-wheel drive system via a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, but the headline is a 50 mpg gas mileage rating that puts it firmly in the same ballpark as rivals like the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq. Combining Kia's typical style with the practicality and popularity of a crossover seems like a surefire winner. The reality, however, is a middling drive that will only appeal to those who view a vehicle as nothing more than an appliance and value world-beating gas mileage.

2020 Kia Niro Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Kia Niro?

For its mid-cycle refresh in the US, the 2020 Kia Niro hybrid receives a myriad of enhancements and alterations as well as a reshuffling of trim levels. Cosmetic updates for the new model year include a new diamond-patterned grille, new headlights with new LED daytime running lights in a double-chevron arrangement, a wider, more pronounced rear faux skid plate, redesigned taillights, and new 16- and 18-inch wheel designs. There's also a new instrument panel featuring a seven-inch digital gauge cluster that has been updated with improved drive-mode graphics, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system has been made standard and a 10.25-inch unit optional. Also newly optional are steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that offer a sportier driving experience and improved active regenerative braking control, there's an electronic parking brake available, too, as well as in-cabin mood lighting with six different colors. Some trim-specific changes include forward-collision avoidance, blind-spot warning, and lane-keep assist on the new LXS trim, a standard sunroof on the Touring, and synthetic leather seats with the larger infotainment display on the top-end EX Premium.

Pros and Cons

  • Attractive exterior styling
  • Modern, easy-to-use infotainment
  • Spacious and well-finished cabin
  • Impressive practicality and cargo space
  • Superb fuel economy
  • Very good safety rating
  • Excellent expected reliability
  • Ride and handling are middling
  • Short on power and performance
  • No all-wheel drive available
  • Powertrain refinement lacking

Best Deals on Niro

2020 Kia Niro Trims and Prices

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LX
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,690
LXS
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,090
Touring
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$28,390
Touring SE
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$30,950
EX Premium
1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$32,950

Niro Exterior

2020 Kia Niro Front View Kia
2020 Kia Niro Rear View Kia
2020 Kia Niro Front-End View Kia
See All 2020 Kia Niro Exterior Photos

Dimensions

  • Length 171.5 in
  • Wheelbase 106.3 in
  • Height 60.4 in
  • Max Width 71.1 in
  • Front Width 61.6 in
  • Rear Width 62.2 in

Exterior Colors

  • Runway Red
  • Aurora Black Pearl
  • Snow White Pearl
  • Deep Cerulean
  • Silky Silver
  • Horizon Blue
  • Solar Orange

Niro Performance

2020 Kia Niro Front Angle View Kia
2020 Kia Niro Rear Angle View Kia
2020 Kia Niro Dashboard Kia

Engine and Transmission

As a hybrid model, the 2020 Niro crossover combines electrification with combustion for greater efficiency. In this case, it combines a 1.6-liter gasoline inline-4 developing 104 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque with an electric motor boasting 43 hp and 125 lb-ft. The result is a combined 139 hp and 195 lb-ft and 50 mpg on the combined cycle. A front-wheel drive system is the default here, and the Niro employs a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. As this is not a PHEV - a plug-in version is available but we review this 2020 Kia Niro variant separately - it cannot be charged by outside sources and instead relies on regenerative braking capabilities.

  • Engine
    1.6L Inline-4 Hybrid
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Niro Gas Mileage

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    11.9 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 51/46 mpg
* 2020 Kia Niro LX FWD

Niro Interior

2020 Kia Niro Interior Overview Kia
2020 Kia Niro Climate Control Kia
2020 Kia Niro Charging Point Kia
See All 2020 Kia Niro Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.7 in
  • Front Head Room 40.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.1 in

Niro Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Kia Niro Maximum Trunk Space Kia
2020 Kia Niro Trunk Floor Storage Kia
2020 Kia Niro Trunk Space Kia

Niro Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • Basic:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Hybrid/Electric Components:
    10 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Kia Niro a good crossover?

If you want a high-riding hatchback with an extremely efficient powertrain, the 2020 Niro hybrid CUV fits the bill perfectly. It's a seriously attractive offering in its class and the things it's good at, it does very well. Among these are the excellent infotainment system, its top warranty cover, and its exemplary efficiency. However, these good traits struggle to paper over some of its most obvious flaws, the most notable being that you can't have AWD and it has no rated towing capacity. If these aren't deal-breakers, you'd still be a little put out that Kia couldn't get the ride/handling balance quite right. To add insult to injury, performance is middling at best and the typical dual-clutch pull-away lag and its occasional indecisiveness detracts from the experience. If you can live with the flaws, it's a very attractive and well-equipped compact crossover-cum-hatchback.

🚗What Kia Niro Model Should I Buy?

We'd avoid the cheapest LX and go for nothing less than the LXS instead. The price of the 2020 Kia Niro SUV in this form is not much higher than that of the base LX, yet it adds keyless entry with push-button start, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and crucial driver-assistance features such as forward-collision warning (including pedestrian detection), driver-attention warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keep assist. Higher up, bigger wheels, a sunroof, and even more safety tech are available, but the LXS will meet most people's needs perfectly.

Check out other Kia Niro Styles

Kia Niro Popular Comparisons

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